What You Didn't Know About Rosey Grier, Football Player, Actor, National Hero, And All-Star Needlepointer

Rosey Grier in 2014 in New York City. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Honestly, Roosevelt "Rosey" Grier probably has a superhero cape hanging in his closet. As a former professional football player, minister, actor, author, singer, and motivational speaker, Grier has impacted the lives of thousands who have crossed his path. You might remember him as the burly man with the girly name who was part of the L.A. Rams's original "Fearsome Foursome," but there is much more to this modern Renaissance man.

He Was An Awesome Football Player

Grier began his athletic career at Penn State University, where in addition to acting as defensive lineman for the school's football team, he was an All-American track and field athlete specializing in shot put, discus, and javelin. He was drafted by the New York Giants in the 1955 NFL draft, led them to the NFL Championship in 1956, and was selected for the Pro Bowl in 1956 and 1960. When he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1963, he became part of the team's "Fearsome Foursome" along with Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy. The "Fearsome Foursome" is still considered the greatest defensive line in the history of the sport.

He Took Down An Assassin

When Grier retired from professional sports in 1967, he took a job as a bodyguard for Senator Robert Kennedy and his wife, Ethel. On June 6, 1968, Grier was assigned to guard Mrs. Kennedy when her husband gave a speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where the senator was shot three times by Sirhan Sirhan. Grier wasn't close enough to stop the shooting, but he prevented further tragedy by disarming Sirhan and securing the weapon.

Grier (right) with Evan Freed, 1967. (Evan Freed/Wikimedia Commons)

He Dabbles In Politics

Despite his Kennedy affiliation, Grier is a Republican who endorsed Ronald Reagan for reelection at the party's 1984 National Convention. In early 2017, Grier announced his intention to run for governor of California, though he withdrew his candidacy seven months later.

He Loves Needlepoint

The rough and tough football player has been open about his enjoyment of traditionally less-masculine hobbies, including needlepoint and macrame. He even published Rosey Grier's Needlepoint For Men in 1973.

He's An Author And Motivational Speaker

Aside from his needlepoint manual, Grier has authored numerous books and spends much of his time touring the U.S. as a motivational speaker. He's also an ordained Protestant minister and a founding member of American Neighborhood Enterprises, a group that provides vocational training and helps the disadvantaged become homeowners.

Grier and comedian Don Rickles in a Kraft Music Hall skit, 1968. (NBC Television/Wikimedia Commons)

He's A Singer And Actor

After his football career ended—when he wasn't bodyguarding, that is—Grier made the switch to entertainment. He hosted a weekly talk show for a short time and made special appearances on more than 70 T.V. shows, including I Dream of Jeannie, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., CHiPs, The Love Boat, and Kojak. He was also a regular cast member on Daniel Boone, Make Room for Granddaddy, and The White Shadow. Grier also launched a multi-decade music career in 1960, though his only single to hit the music charts was "People Make the World," a tribute to Bobby Kennedy.

He Has Some Famous Family

Grier's famous cousin, Pam—who shot to stardom as the title character of Foxy Brown, among a slew of roles in other "blaxploitation" films of the 1970s—inspired him to go into show business. He also has a nephew, Mike "Big Daddy" Grier, who was a star hockey player before he became the National Hockey League's first black general manager.